"One Hundred and One Dalmatians" (1961) | Sam Gall Movie Review Issue #108 Gem Mint 10.0


“One Hundred and One Dalmatians“ (1961)

Director: Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Wolfgang, Reitherman

Writer: Bill Peet, Dodie Smith (Novel)

Starring: Rod Taylor, J. Pat O'Malley, Betty Lou Gerson, Martha Wentworth, Ben Wright, Cate Bauer, David Frankham, Frederick Worlock, Lisa Davis, Tom Conway, Tudor Owen, George Pelling

Rated: G

Runtime: 1h 19min

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Country: United States

Language: English


"When a litter of Dalmatian puppies are abducted by the minions of Cruella de Vil, the parents must find them before she uses them for a diabolical fashion statement."


You might like this if you like: Disney, Dalmatians, Dogs, Animals, Animated Movies, Adventure, Comedy, Rod Taylor, J. Pat O'Malley, Betty Lou Gerson, Martha Wentworth, Ben Wright, Cate Bauer, David Frankham, Frederick Worlock, Lisa Davis, Tom Conway, Tudor Owen, George Pelling


Lisa Davis (left as 'Anita') & Ben Wright (right as 'Roger') in "One Hundred and One Dalmatians" (1961)


With Disney’s “Cruella” (2021) out now out on Disney+ and on the rise, I felt the franchise deserved a reviewing, and I’d start at the beginning with “One Hundred and One Dalmatians” (1961) based on the 1956 novel “The Hundred and One Dalmatians” by Dodie Smith.


It had been years since I’d seen the film. Certainly not since I was a kid. It was magical to see it again. See where it all began, now with knowing how far this franchise would go.

This definitely made the rounds in the family home at some point or another. But it really felt like I was seeing it for the first time as an adult and could appreciate a lot more aspects than I could before. Now I was actually able to put actors faces to these voices, especially Rod Taylor’s as our leading pup; “Pongo”.


Martha Wenworth (left as 'Nanny') & Betty Lou Gerson (right as 'Cruella de Ville') in"One Hundred and One Dalmatians" (1961)

Appreciating the work of the animation itself, reading about how they used xerox printing to save costs on the animation cells. It’s still a bit foreign to me, but over the years I have certainly gained a huge appreciate for the animation industry!

My favorite scene is pretty early on in the film, when we’re first introduced to all the pups and they’re all sitting around the TV watching their favorite show about a heroic dog of the west; “Thunderbolt”. The way they watch and comment; it feels like they’re old western geezers in a bar. “Come on, Thunderbolt!” and “He’ll get that dirty ol’ horse thief!”.


"One Hundred and One Dalmatians" (1961)


Hearing that 'Cruella' theme song for the first time in this is timeless! It’s so catchy and really shows that she’s by far, the most thought out, and colorful character in that universe. No one in that franchise even comes close, it makes perfect sense she’d get her own movie one day.


Oh and the cat aka 'Sgt. Tibbs' was incredible! As a cat dad now, that character stood out this time around! As a kid, I had completely forgotten about him! I was a raised a dog owner growing up so I kind of had 'dog-tunnel' vision.


J. Pat O'Malley (left as 'Colonel') & David Frankham (right as 'Sgt. Tibbs') in "One Hundred and One Dalmatians" (1961)


With animation, and the dog’s narration, this one really makes me feel closest to them. I don’t feel as connected with the dogs in the live action 1996 film, which is probably due to the lack of personification, whereas in the animated version you really get to be inside the head of the dogs. It feels more from their perspective which is what I love so much about the original. At the same time, I get it though, harder to have that come across in live action, especially for 1996.


Martha Wenworth (left as 'Nanny'), Lisa Davis (middle as 'Anita'), Ben Wright (middle right as 'Roger') & Rod Taylor (bottom right as 'Pongo') in "One Hundred and One Dalmatians" (1961)

Can’t appreciate the original enough. It’s where I first saw this world and ‘Cruella’, and probably where I learned the word 'Dalmatians'. It’s a childhood class that belongs in the ‘Gem Mint’ series.


Written by Sam Gall on June 12, 2021


CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0


"Dazzling hand-drawn animation, cute canine heroes and a delightfully nasty villainess all combine to make this a pedigree film." - Jason Best, What's On TV


"The fact that 101 Dalmatians plays easily alongside both the oldest and most recent of Disney's best is tribute to just how modern it was and continues to be." - James Kendrick, Q Network Film Desk


"What has truly kept 101 Dalmatians alive ... is Cruella De Vil herself, one of the most deliciously nasty characters in Disney's oeuvre." - Felix Gonzalez Jr., DVD Review


"One of the most striking Disney films of the classic era, with its almost impressionistic pencil drawings and dazzling use of color." - Matthew Lucas, From the Front Row


Official Trailer:


Behind the Scenes:


Available on various VOD platforms (Disney+)


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